English XI (Old Course)

The Worn Path – Summary | The Magic of Words

“A Worn Path” is a story of unconscious heroism, firm dignity and innocent humour, shown by an old African American woman Phoenix Jackson. The story decides Jackson’s journey from her house to the town. She had a grandson, who had been suffering from a throat pain ever since he swallowed lye. They lived in a village behind the hill. Their house was a long way from the town Natchez. It was the month of December and an occasion of Christmas, so she had to go the town to get some medicine and Christmas gifts for her grandson.

            On her way, she had to face several obstacles and hardships. She climbed up a hill and got down it first. But before she got down the hill her dress was caught in a thorn bush. However, with care and struggle, she stood free. Then she came to a stream, having no bridge over it. Only a log was put over it. Having lifted her skirt up and shutting her eyes she marched across it safety. While taking a short rest under a tree, she dreamt a boy offering her a slice of cake. But she got nothing when she went to take it. She kept on moving and came across a barbed wire fence. By spreading her knees and stretching her fingers like a baby, she crept and crawled and got through it. She was able to keep her clothes safe. Possible meeting with snakes and wild bulls scares her.

           She was now in a corn field. She saw a human like figure. She thought it to be a human being, singing and dancing in the field. When she heard no sound, she took it to be a ghost. With courage, she moved toward it and felt its sleeve, and knew it to be a scarecrow. Leaving the field behind, she arrived at a wagon track which went into a road through a dense forest.

            A wild black dog came out of the weeds by a ditch. She hit it a little with her stick. Yet the dog pushed her into the ditch. She could not come out of it. Her senses drifted away. She saw a dream; a man was ready to help her. When she extended her hand, nothing happened. After a while; a hunter with a dog in chain found her. While he lifted her, he dropped a nickel that Phoenix would like to pick up. Her talks to the hunter show that she was very old, and suffering from loss of memory. On the other side, the two dogs growled and the hunter rushed to chase the wild dog. At this time, she picked the coin quite carefully, the way one lifts an egg from under a sitting hen. The hunter pointed his gun at her but she was not scared at all.

            When she reached the town she asked a beautiful and seemingly rich lady to tie her shoe laces. The lady did it for her. Then she went to clinic to get some medicine for her grandson. Although she had forgotten the clinic, she reached it with her instinctual power and feeling the path and stairs. In the clinic, an attendant asked her why she had come there, but she forgot her purpose and remained indifferent. A nurse knew her and gave medicine for her grandson. The attendant gave her some money. Thinking of buying a windmill (Christmas gift), she headed toward a gift shop.

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